I’m finally getting around to posting my impressions of my recent July visit to Niagara. In general, I think Chardonnay, Gewurz, and Reisling have come a long way in this area. However, I do find that wineries are still experimenting (maybe a bit too much). One of the most impressive wineries I visited (Hidden Bench) made an excellent Chardonnay and extremely unripe meritage. The woman serving the wine insisted they were eventually turning to producing entirely red (sangiovese??). I just don’t understand why they don’t stick to what they can do well, rather than what makes them different or what sells to the tourists. I didn’t find many QPR’s to be sure; prices are a bit inflated for what youy get.
Hidden Bench Winery
The Estate Chardonnay was one of my favorites of the day. Hopefully they stick to making whites, since they do this fairly well.
2007 Roman’s Block Reisling
Pear, citrus on the nose. Some mineral, but not as much as the winery would like you to believe. Great acidity and very nice length. There was just something missing mid-palate.
2006 Estate Chardonnay
Spends 11 months in french oak. The oak is not overwhelming, although it does mute the flavors a bit. Nice touch of better on the end. I quite liked this one.
2006 Terrior Cache
Green on the nose. Good acidity, but limited fruit and extremely soft tannins. Not convinced this one is ripe.
Really wasn’t impressed with any of these wines.
Muted nose; seems as if this has been served too cold. Seems to have nice acidity, but very little fruit showing through. Little length to speak of.
2006 Moire Chardonnay
I believe they market this as their premium wine. Extreme oak dominating the nose. Butterscotch, apricot and strong toast on the palate. Still not a buyer.
2006 Pinot Noir
Artificial candy flavoring on the nose (cherry-like). The color is quite light, almost orange rather than pink/red. Suprisingly strong tannins, with a little gamey funk on the finish. Again, limited fruit. Eh…
Surprising good structure, but again limited nose. Spice and a bit of dark cherry dominate, and the tannins I recall as being quite harsh. My favorite of the bunch.
Despite some strong recommendations, I wasn’t really taken with any of these wines. I thought they were overdone, and trying to be something they weren’t.
2007 Scetches of Niagara (Oaked)
Oak dominates. Not much fruit to speak of. I get just a little pear on the nose, but not much else.
2006 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay
This is their premium wine. Strong toast, oak concentrated on the nose and palate. This oak is more integrated than the Scetches, but still very dominate. Decent finish. Not a buyer.
2007 Pinot Noir
Not much on the nose here. The wine is very drinkable, with nice soft tannins. Not much distinction though.
Wow, not sure what I can say about this one. Red dominates their portfolio, and every one of them was unripe. The people serving the wine really really stressed the importance of quality in their vineyard and cellar. If this is the truth, I can imagine they may make something nice if they focused on varietals they could ripen.
Oak. Very little nose, but oak. Nothing but toast on the palate.
2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Nose of pears; finish is soft and creamy. Don’t recall much else.
2004 Syrah Reserve
I asked if 2004 was a tough vintage. The man replied (the winemaker, I eventually realized) that it was no more difficult than any other vintage. My notes simply say green, green, green. Green on the nose. If this is the reserve, I don’t want to taste the unreserve.
2004 Cabernet Franc
Green again. Just unripe with harsh tannins – although I do get a bit of smoke in there.
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
Green peppers. I hate green peppers. There is a nice spice, and a bit of dark fruit on the palate, but the tannins are rough and the green dominates.
Flat Rock Cellars
Fairly impressed overall with this winery. It’s a bit more commerical than other spots around here, but the tasting experience was fun and informative.
2006 Estate Reisling
Nice balance of sweetness and acidity. Light fruit (pear, etc), and decent length.
2007 Unplugged Chardonnay (unaoked)
Floral, creamy, and nice length. Seems like good value.
2007 Pinot Noir
Little green on the nose. I get light hints of smoke and cherry, but it’s fairly muted right now.
2005 Reserve Pinot Noir
Starting to brick, a bit lighter than the 2007. Definitely more on the nose, light cherry and a nice finish.
2006 Rusty Shed Chardonnay
Very nice. Light oak on this one, with pear dominating the nose. Citrus and butterscotch throughout the palate, generally mid finish.
2006 Red Twisted
Definitely an interesting wine. This is a pinot/syrah/chardonnay blend. All three varietals are evident, although it’s got a disappointing finish. Still, for the price I think this is a decent summer wine.
I don’t recall much from Daniel’s stop. He is an interesting, eccentric person to be sure. I really did not have time to take notes, as the bottles were flying at me left, right, and centre. He opened everything on his list. Seems like a very generous person; he definitely doesn’t care about what people think of his storefront. It’s a working farm with rubber boots intact. His father is a bit hard of hearing, so don’t mind the yelling. Here is what I think I tasted:
2007 Unoaked Chardonnay (same as Unoaked Chardonngay)
Simple if I remember correctly.
2007 Reserve Reisling
Don’t recall this one.
2004 Old Vines Chardonnay (American Oak)
Bought one of these and drank it in my hotel room. Very nice, not too heavily oaked.
2004 Old Vines Chardonnay (French Oak)
Despite the heavy oak influence here, I bought two. Haven’t tasted them yet, but I think they were good.
2008 White Cabernet
He said this is his best seller, and I can actually see why. I thought this was a great rose – simple and to the point.
I recall this being a bit unripe.
That’s it! I’ll be in the Okanagan next week, and I’m sure I’ll have better luck with the reds there.